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Neil Warnock steps down as Aberdeen boss after sealing semi-final spot

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 9 Mar 2024

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Neil Warnock guided Aberdeen into the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-finals in what proved to be his final match as manager as the Dons beat Kilmarnock 3-1 at Pittodrie.

Warnock had faced questions about his future ahead of the game after failing to net a win in six cinch Premiership matches to leave the Dons third-bottom of the league.

It turned out his mind was made up regardless of the quarter-final outcome as he left on a high after Jamie McGrath’s double saw the 75-year-old record a second win in eight matches, having overseen a win over Bonnyrigg Rose in the previous round.

The Dons announced soon after the game that Warnock had stepped aside along with assistant Ronnie Jepson, having been appointed until the end of the season on February 5.

Chairman Dave Cormack said in a statement: “With the search for a new manager at an advanced stage, Peter Leven will assume control of all first team matters until the process is concluded.”

McGrath hit an early opener and rounded off the scoring during a comfortable second half for the home side at Pittodrie.

Graeme Shinnie had put the Dons two ahead and Kilmarnock could not make the most of the lifeline afforded by Danny Armstrong’s strike late in the first half.

Killie have taken nine points from Aberdeen this season but the Dons had not lost in 13 previous Scottish Cup meetings between the teams. The cups continue to be a bright spot in Aberdeen’s difficult league campaign, with the victory sealing a third trip to Hampden so far.

Aberdeen’s 11th-minute opener came as a result of a long ball from Stefan Gartenmann, which was just too high for Stuart Findlay to properly head clear.

Bojan Miovski’s backheel put Junior Hoilett in behind and McGrath was on hand to knock home the rebound after Will Dennis stopped the winger’s shot.

Kilmarnock responded well. The visitors claimed for handball in the box from Gartenmann but referee John Beaton and video assistant Andrew Dallas were both unconvinced.

Aberdeen doubled their lead in the 33rd minute after Hoilett took a quick throw and crossed. Miovski laid the ball back for Shinnie, who had run off the back of Kyle Vassell, and the Dons captain sent a powerful strike into the roof of the net via a deflection off Liam Donnelly.

Cheered on by a full away end in the 10,879 crowd, the visitors got back into the game eight minutes later when Vassell got past Nicky Devlin and cut the ball back for Armstrong to sweep into the net first time.

Aberdeen dealt well with some sporadic set-pieces and restored their two-goal lead in the 66th minute.

Left-back Jack MacKenzie overlapped and cut the ball back for McGrath to guide a shot home off the head of Findlay.

There was no way back for Killie and Miovski was denied by Dennis as Aberdeen finished the stronger side, although there was a late blow when Shinnie received a yellow card for dissent that rules him out of the semi-final.

Warnock received a warm ovation as he celebrated with his players on the pitch in what proved to be his farewell to the Dons fans.

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